Talbot, Thomas (1771-1853) (DNB00)

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TALBOT, THOMAS (1771–1853), colonist, fourth son of Richard Talbot (d. 1788) of Malahide Castle, co. Dublin, and younger brother of Admiral Sir John Talbot [q. v.], was born at Malahide in 1771. He entered the army on 24 May 1783 as an ensign in the 66th foot, became lieutenant on 27 Sept. 1783, and was on half-pay from 1784 to 1787, when he was gazetted to the 24th foot. On 21 Nov. 1793 he was promoted captain in the 85th foot, ordered to Canada, and attached to the staff of John Graves Simcoe [q. v.], who had just entered on the government of Upper Canada. He became major on 6 March 1794 and lieutenant-colonel of the 5th foot on 12 Jan. 1796.

Enthusiastic by temperament, he threw himself into Simcoe's plans for developing the territory of Upper Canada; and on 25 Dec. 1800 he sold his commission and obtained a grant of five thousand acres for the purpose of a settlement on the northern shore of lake Erie, about 150 miles from Simcoe's new capital (now Toronto). In 1802 he commenced his settlement in this position, naming it Port Talbot. In a few years he conceived a larger scheme which was to be supported by free grants of land from the government, and, after a visit to England to obtain colonists, extended his settlement in 1809, receiving from the government grants of two hundred acres for every fifty definitely settled. In 1810 the first settlement began to make way, and in 1812 he commenced another on the same principles. From that time his progress was continuous, until twenty-eight townships had been settled by him, and Talbot Street became the main artery along the northern side of Lake Erie. Several Canadians of some note were natives of these settlements. For a long time 21 May was celebrated in Port Talbot as ‘Founder's Day.’

During 1812–14, Talbot commanded the militia of the district in the war with the United States. Subsequently he became a member of the legislative council. Mrs. Jameson saw him in 1837 at his house, which he called Castle Malahide, and gives a favourable picture of his eccentricities. In his eightieth year he paid a twelve-months' visit to England. He died at Port Talbot on 6 Feb. 1853.

[Bryce's History of the Canadian People, p. 294; Edward Talbot's Five Years in Canada, 1824, pp. 104–5; Pope's Memoirs of Sir J. A. Macdonald, ii. 272; Mrs. Jameson's Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada, 1838; Rose's Cyclopædia of Canadian Biography.]

C. A. H.